Liesbet Collaert Interview and her book, Plunge

Good Morning Readers,

Today I want to share the Priorhouse Interview with blogger Liesbet Collaert.

How did this interview come about?

I have been following Liesbet’s blog on and off for a while now and so I wanted to jump on board (pun intended) with the sharing of her new book, a short memoir called Plunge.  

Interview: 

Thank you, Yvette, for featuring my life, writing process, and debut travel memoir Plunge on your blog today. I’m looking forward to interacting with your readers!

Question #1: What is your brief bio?

Hello everyone! My name is Liesbet Collaert and I recently published my first book, Plunge – One Woman’s Pursuit of a Life Less Ordinary. I was born and raised in Belgium, where I worked as a teacher until 2003. In that fateful year, I took my passion for traveling westwards, crossed the Atlantic Ocean by plane, and never returned. I was 27. 

Eighteen years later, I am still a nomad, with a string of sailing and RVing adventures under my belt. My husband, our 60-pound rescue dog, and I are currently living on the road in a 19ft campervan, exploring North America. Writing became my job as well as my hobby. I translate documents (English and Dutch), create articles, co-edit a Caribbean boating magazine, maintain a blog, take photos, and focus on other writing projects. Because of our unique lifestyle and low expenses, we manage to satisfy our free spirits, minimalistic ideas, few responsibilities, and desire to live on our own terms. Indefinitely.

Question #2: Tell us about the book

It took five years to complete Plunge and self-publish it. Because of our challenging logistics, I could only make good progress when we were “settled” for periods at a time. This means when we were house and pet sitting across the US or when we made effort to sit still at a (free) campground for days. In 2020, I decided to (finally) focus 100% on my book. That’s how it finally saw the light of day.

After two years of writing, my first draft added up to 160K words. Way too many. I revised, incorporated eight beta readers from different backgrounds, and edited the heck out of the manuscript until I reached 88K. The hardest part of the writing process for me, was deciding what to leave in and what to cut. Since the story spans a decade of my life (my tumultuous thirties), there was a lot of choosing and considering to do. The facts that I never took writing classes, English isn’t my native language, and reading books has been low on my priority list added to my insecurities. 

Then, last year, I hired a professional editor for a substantial and copy edit, recruited two talented proofreader friends, and my husband as well as I reread the book one more time. I also engaged a professional cover artist. I deemed these steps necessary for the professional appeal and success of Plunge and have no regrets about my “investments.” Figuring out the intricacies of self-publishing was the hardest, most frustrating part of this journey. 

Question #3: How is the book doing right now?

My first reaction is “I don’t really know,” because I have nothing to compare it to; this is my first book. But that would be a lie, because things seem to be going really well based on the reactions I have received privately and noticed publicly. Plunge was welcomed with enthusiasm and five-star reviews, read within days of opening the book, and embraced for its unusual voice and raw honesty. Readers have called it “a page turner,” “soul touching,” and “better than Becoming and Born a Crime.”  

Plunge was also a #1 new release in multiple categories on Amazon during its first month, eight print magazines have requested a review copy, and one book club (that I know of) read my book as their January selection. Their discussion happened earlier this month and I was excited to take part in a Q&A via Zoom with readers afterwards. So far, I’m pretty happy about the buzz. 😊

Question #4: Why should someone read this book? 

Other than to be absorbed and inspired? Because they would like to experience what it’s like to live a life less ordinary, to think outside the box, and to follow your gut. And because they enjoy exploring the world, either from their armchair or in real life. I wrote the book in the present tense to draw the reader in and have her/him come along for the ride, one impulsive move at a time. I incorporated flashbacks and foreshadowing, breaking the story up at crucial periods in my life, so the book reads as a novel. 

Plunge is a seamless confluence of travelogue and memoir in which the reader is immersed inside my head as well as inside different cultures, locales, and wildlife interactions. The heading on the back cover of my paperback sums up the book’s essence: “Inspiration for Travelers. Recognition for Couples. Escape for Homebodies.”

Question #5: Give us an interesting fun fact about your book.

It took years – and a list of over 100 titles – before I decided on the main title, Plunge. Choosing the subtitle, One Woman’s Pursuit of a Life Less Ordinary was even more daunting… Again, I boiled it down to about ten final candidates and discussed this with my friends and blog readers. Multiple times. For months, I ran with One Woman’s Journey of Love and Adventure. In true impulsive Liesbet fashion, I changed my mind at the last minute, right before hitting “send” for the email to my cover artist; the email with the final information of the book to create the cover. At that very moment, I changed the subtitle to the one it is now. It wasn’t even on the list. No turning back after that!

(c)Liesbet Collaert

Question #6: What’s something you are really good at that few people know about? 

Table tennis. Not sure why, as I never took lessons and never play. If I ever have a talent, it might be that. And I can be quite witty, in a sarcastic way. For good or for bad…

Question #7:  What do you hope to accomplish with Plunge?

Anyone who gets to know me, reads my blog, or dives into my book will soon realize that I am a woman of few plans, expectations, and requirements. Because of that, I didn’t think much about Plunge other than getting it finished in a professional, appealing, and unique manner and hoping people would like it. By now, two months after its release, I’ve had some time to think about this massive achievement and the impact a book can have on the world. I truly hope I can inspire my readers one way or another, whether it is by showing them a different approach to live, transmitting joy about being in tropical settings, creating an open mind regarding different cultures and locations, instilling moments of relaxation and reflection, or encouraging them to take the plunge and expand their horizons themselves.

Question #8:  Can you share the book links for Plunge?

If your curiosity for Plunge is piqued, check out the “look inside” feature on Amazon. This allows you to read the first two chapters of the book for free. Happy reading and if you have any questions, that’s what the comment section is for. 😊

General info on my blog, including purchase links: https://www.roamingabout.com/about-plunge/ 

 

Thank you again, Yvette, for introducing me and Plunge to your readers and followers!

Thank you, Liesbet. I enjoyed getting to know you a little more as we exchanged info. 

***

My top three takeaways from Plunge:

1) The way Liesbet highlighted the hard work that comes with sailing. Sailing is not for the weak – neither in mind nor body. 

2)  In Plunge, the reader is able to sail along with the author as she changed and matured  – on and off the water.  And when she shared about how she visited Lisa Dorenfest (here), I smiled because I have been following Lisa’s global sailing journey since 2015. Small world…

3) The hand-selected photos at the end of the book were cleverly placed there – allowing parts of this short memoir to connect with us with fullness. 

Here are a few snippets that connect to my takeaways: 

 

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  • Have you spent time sailing or is it on your list?
  • Have you already read Plunge? 
  • Any questions for Liesbet? 
  • Anything else come to mind right now?

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63 thoughts on “Liesbet Collaert Interview and her book, Plunge

  1. Good morning, Yvette! Thank you so much for conducting this wonderful interview with me, for reading Plunge, and for featuring me on your blog today. I’ve enjoyed meeting you virtually and appreciate our connection. Have a lovely week!

    Liked by 1 person

        1. hi Liesbet! as i read i used the Kindle option of grabbing a snippet like that and while i am still getting used to Kindle – that was an awesome feature because it was easy to highlight a quote with credit (oh technology)
          and as i mentioned in an email a while back – the pages turned easy for this relatively short memoir and the editing and care you put into its flow showed.
          I do nkt read a lot of memoirs but it also did remind me how our unique story – and journey – has its own story to tell and how impactful the sharing of that story can be to touch us as humans.
          And hope you and Lisa get to connect again this spring – 🌵🏜

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Great Interview Yvette!
    Love meeting ou here Liesbet! The title of your book is awesome and wonderful hearing about your leap in faith, trusting your gut and book!
    Great job. Visit me sometime as well! I can tell I’ll love reading your work. 💖

    Liked by 2 people

    1. hi Cindy and happy February to
      you my friend !
      “leap of faith” was a good phrase for many of the choices she made in the years this memoir covers
      ☀️😊

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Hi Cindy!

      Thank you for your kind words. I’m a relatively impulsive gal, which has brought me many adventures. But sometimes, I brings me trouble as well. Like today, when I was meeting a few stray dogs in Mexico and one of them bit my leg! Luckily, I was wearing jeans, so it will mostly just be a bruise.

      I like the fact that sharing stories and being honest and straightforward is important to you as well. Your blog looks very inspiring!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hellio Liesbet,

        You’re most welcome. I am gathering that by your story today and I’m just glad you are ok!!!! My daughter was bit by a cat protecting her kittens in Mexico one time which was sooo scary. Adventures are so cool… and make for great stories which I imagaine your book is full of.
        Honesty is the only thing there is in my book.
        Thanks dfor visiting and I’ll see you aound.
        Stay well roaming about! 💖

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Such a really great interview. Yvette. I’ve been so impressed with Liesbet’s pioneering spirit whilst following her blog and also on social media. I’m sure her book is riveting and intend reading it very soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful interview, Liesbet and Yvette. It’s awesome to hear how well the book is doing, Yay, and I laughed at the struggle over the title and tag line. I think Liesbet nailed it. And I could relate to the 160K document turning into an 88K book. To me, that points to a tight, entertaining read. Congrats!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know your writing and your reading, Diana! I do think the end result of Plunge is a tight and compelling read. While I thought it would be hard to do, other than being time-consuming to keep cutting, the editing itself became relatively straightforward. It sounds like words come easy to you as well. I know authors who struggle to reach their word count. A very different problem! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a great interview Yvette and Liesbet! Another teacher-friend. Yay! I promoted Liesbet’s book, but have not read it yet. It sits on my Kindle for when I have enough time . Your post inspires me again to find my Kindle, charge it up, and read. To answer your question, I went sailing when I was about 18 on a blind double date. He invited me to sail down the coast of Oregon and California to Mexico. I turned him down. I’m sure my life would have been very different. I think I would have trouble being so confined to one place for so long.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. marsha – thanks for sharing your story and wow your life would have been way different – but God knew you’d be with Vince and all that unfolded
      💕💕
      and i had done a little boating to know it is tough physical work!
      and think i could rise to the occasion if i needed to sail full time – but it is not me
      and i am also not into camping like some folks – hahah
      i like bed and ground and all that – hahaha

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’ve bought and sold four motor homes, and three trailers and a timeshare. The first motor home we wore out. After that it was a lot of hassle hooking up. After my first husband died, I took our little Toyota motor home out with a girl who had moved in with me temporarily. When I unhooked it, the sewage spilled all over the paved parking lot. I started trying to clean it up, but without moving it, I couldn’t get it clean and I was so embarrassed to move it for fear the owners would think I was trying to skip out. Finally the owner came out and told me to drive on. He would clean it up. I never went back there, and never used that motor home again. I loved our timeshare, but it got too expensive. We paid to give it back. It was cheaper than anything else I researched. Big loss, but we had a good time using it. Now you can rent those places through Expedia for next to nothing. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Oh no about the sewage spillage, Marsha! I sure sounds like you have a few stories to share in a memoir as well. 🙂 That’s a lot of “properties” to buy and sell. You must be an expert now. An RV real estate expert, haha.

          Liked by 2 people

        2. such fun stories Marsha! and you are so right about the rentals we can easily get these days – even many hotels have more patience packages now because of airbnb

          and i have heard about a lot of folks having headaches with time shares (have you seen Queen of Versailles? – about the family that sold a lot of time shares)

          Liked by 2 people

        3. No, I haven’t seen that. I loved staying in the timeshare and we went places we wouldn’t have otherwise gone, and took lots of friends, but it feels like a huge burden has been lifted. It was an expensive lesson to learn.

          Liked by 2 people

        4. Haha! Luckily, Mark takes care of ours. I once traveled with our van my myself for a week and after I dumped the tanks, I had forgotten to close the valve of the grey tank. Good thing he saw that upon his return. 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

  6. Hi Marsha! Thanks for following along my blog hops and interviews. I know you have some adventurous blood in you (especially based on your recent move) and you’re a strong woman, so I bet you’ll enjoy reading Plunge whenever you get to it. Sailing and/or living in small spaces 24/7 is not for everyone. I’d say it’s for a minority of people. I do miss a real house once in a while, but the sense of adventure and freedom trumps all that. 🙂

    Like

    1. and liesbet- you seem to know what you need

      and regarding the book – two other little notes
      one is i would have liked a little more about some of the good times with you and your hubs – at one point it felt like you would lead us to parting ways – but itou are thriving and strong yet it did not quite come out that way for me
      and maybe that was part of was edited out
      and do not want to give too much away about the book – but felt it was missing some of the moments that were deposits and not the withdrawals (if that makes sense)
      and the second thing
      i liked the way the you customized the acknowledgement section
      – how you went from “who else do i thank besides myself” and then you shared how the community of people that helped you were the ones to mention in that section!
      it would be good for other writers to read that to see how it does unfold like that!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for that feedback, Yvette. I agree with your first observation. The reason I omitted some of that was to keep a bit of “drama” going, as our future was uncertain and anything could happen, if you know what I mean. I’m trying to not give too much away as well.

        About the acknowledgement section… thank you for mentioning that. You are the first one to observe and share this. So few people actually read that section. Maybe I should highlight it somewhere… Put the back matter on the front page, so to speak. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. hmmmmm
          maybe you could do that
          – and i think more people do read the acknowledgment sections than we realize
          i buy some used books and sometimes my favorite parts are the authors sharing in that section – or parts that move and inspire – not always –
          but often

          Liked by 2 people

  7. I have indeed read Plunge and been following Liesbet’s blog for some time. Several years ago we had the pleasure of meeting in person in California. It was through Lisa Dorenfest that our blog lives crossed I believe.

    I have written a review of Plunge on Goodreads. The summary of it is that Plunge was the first book I was able to read since the pandemic began. I could not quiet my mind enough in the months previous but in Plunge, I felt as if I was on that boat. I haven’t had the opportunity to tell Liesbet yet but my 90 year old mother in law read it and she said “I felt like I was sailing right with them.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. oh Sue! that is an awesome compliment about the experience with Plunge / and your mother n law’s similar takeaway!
      i did not mention it here but i did tell Liesbet that the first three pages i read pulled me right in! it was the easy reading and of course the editing that masked it flow /

      thanks fir chiming in and i will check out your review next time i make it to goodreads
      ttys

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Oh Sue, thank you for sharing that tidbit about your MIL! That is wonderful. And, you know already how you have touched me with your own amazing review. Will you let Shirley read Plunge as well? I wonder what she would think. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi, Yvette – Thank you for sharing this interview with us. I am a huge fan of both Liesbet and of Plunge! With each interview that I read about LIesbet and Plunge, a learn a little bit more. Thank you for your great questions and insights — I greatly enjoyed this post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. thank you for taking the time to leave a note!
      Sharing about Plunge has also reminded me about how wonderful books are and how we all benefit when we share our story (or stories)
      ☀️😊📚📚📚📚

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for the great interview; your review and feelings about Liesbet’s book; and the snippets here – that’s clever! I wonder how you do that? I have read Plunge twice! First as a “reader” copy and then again for the pure pleasure of Liesbet’s story of her unusual life, her openness about herself and her relationships, and the great writing. Me? I LOVE the idea of sailing, but I get seasick even while standing on a dock. However, we both share the love of dogs, and writing, and writing memoirs. I’ve gotten to know a lot about Liesbet over the years and mutual blog reading, but I didn’t know she was great at table tennis (what we call ping pong). I once won a ping pong championship at college! Granted, my first year was an all-women’s college. But still. Liesbet – would be so fun to play with you. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Pam,

      I think only my husband knows I’m relatively good at table tennis. In Belgium there are two words for this fun sport: table tennis (tafeltennis) and ping ping. That word exists in all languages, probably, and is the more fun one. It would be awesome to play a few games with you. Do you have a table at home? I haven’t done this in a long time. And, now I learned a little tidbit about you too. Winning a ping pong championship! I’ve never done that. Or attended one. 🙂 We have even more in common than I thought.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. No we don’t have one at our home. But when I visit my brother eight hours away I make him go with me down to his basement and we play a hard game of ping-pong. He must be a champion too because somehow he keeps beating me. 😠😝

        Liked by 2 people

        1. hi pam – i also liked learning that she was good at table tennis
          and to think you both enjoy it brings a smile
          i am amazed to watch folks who are good at this fun sport -looks like it requires steady hand and eye coordination with nerves that can handle that fast fast pace where the small ball comes and goes so fast!
          it reminds me of playing in rec rooms where they would have foose ball, pool (billiards) table tennis (ping pong) and air hockey – and the air hockey would be my preferred choice out of those – or the billiards.

          kudos to both of you for reminding us of a fun sport/game like table tennis

          oh and Pam
          the little snippets of Lisbet’s book in the slideshow – must give Kindle reader all credit.
          i simply highlighted the section i wanted and it offered a save feature and then that was uploaded
          i did not realize it did that and originally was saving a few snippets for my three takeaways
          i seem to read more and more books and my mode lately is often looking for those tidbits in case i do a review

          and cheers to Plunge and to all of our writing projects :
          finished, yet to be birthed, or in progress 📚📚📚

          Liked by 2 people

  10. Great interview! I enjoy following Liesbet to see where she is and what she’s up to. I enjoyed Plunge as well. All best to you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting here, Victoria! And, of course, for leaving a review after reading Plunge and for featuring me on your site a little while ago. Right now, we are in Mexico and I’m hoping to relax a bit later this week. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I have followed Liesbet’s journey with PLUNGE, when she was just beyond the muddy middle. Then I met her, Mark, and Maya personally when their RV wintered in Florida last year. At that time, she was polishing her prose and searching for a title. I remember that rumination with my own memoir. Book titles are not copyrighted, so the sky’s the limit: That’s what makes choosing one so hard, I think.

    And, yes, I’ve read and reviewed Liesbet’s book, which has made quite a splash, especially as a debut book. “Moxie” is a a word that definitely fits Liesbet. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. hi Marian! live the pun with the splash word – haha
      and it sounds like you were around for a lot of this beautiful literature adventure and the phrase “muddy middle” also shows your experience with book stages
      and yes – it is cool that book titles are not protected so we can choose but then can be crippled with choice
      and your memoir must have been a huge endeavor – i’ll be over to visit your blog shortly
      take care

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Okay, Marian… Now you have to tell me what “moxie” means! Thank you for all your encouragement and support along the way and still, now! As you know, I have been through so many parallels with your wonderful, well-written book, Mennonite Daughter, that you appear like a mentor to me. Choosing titles is super hard. That and creating a blurb were my biggest struggles. Oh, and deciding what to cut in the manuscript.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. that MOXIE is a good word for Liesbet!
      and wanted to share this fun post about the origins of the word Moxie from the
      terrier man daily dose blog:


      The word (Moxie) itself is derived from the name of America’s oldest soft drink brand, first marketed in Maine as a medicine in 1876 by Dr. Augustin Thompson.

      Described as tasting like “liquid pain” and a mixture of “castor oil, horseradish, and bitter herb tea” the actual ingredient doing most of the talking is gentian root extract with a strong dose of wintergreen tossed on top. Suffice it to sat that the stuff was, and is, sufficiently different and initially unpleasant tasting enough that people are told they will have to “Learn to drink Moxie.”

      Moxie was said to cure everything from depression to alcoholism.

      Did the earliest formulation contain cocaine? Probably, but that was long gone by the turn of the century and the 1906 ban on this then-popular soft drink additive. By then, Moxie Nerve Food was touting itself as a natural cure-all:”

      https://terriermandotcom.blogspot.com/2014/06/a-pup-named-moxie.html?m=1

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That description of Moxie doesn’t sound very positive, Yvette! It reminds me of the flavor of coffee or beer… acquired tastes that I never managed to acquire. Wine, however, is tasting just fine. Most of them anyway. 🙂

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